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Congressman Capuano's
E-UPDATE
An update from the office of U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
7th Congressional District of Massachusetts


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January 26, 2018

Funding the Government — Part Four

On Monday the House and Senate passed a fourth short-term spending bill to reopen the federal government, this time through Thursday February 8th. While round 4 of the budget battle is over – round 5 has already begun.

Some believe that Democrats fought this budget battle over one issue — the Dreamers. That is not an accurate belief. Certainly the future of 800,000 children who are here undocumented through no fault of their own is critically important and deserves our attention. Their lives were thrown into turmoil a few months ago when President Trump unilaterally decided to end a program that provided them some hope and opportunity.

This budget battle was about more than that issue. We still do not know what the budget caps are for defense and non-defense programs. The majority party wants to massively increase defense spending while simultaneously reducing funding for housing, education, research, health care, and so on. I support a strong defense, but I also support many other programs that deserve comparable attention.

Worse, we have no idea if this will be the LAST “temporary” funding bill. The federal fiscal year ended September 30th — FOUR MONTHS AGO!! Since then, no federal program (including defense) has been able to make any plans extending beyond a few weeks’ time. That is bad for our country in many ways and underscores a complete inability of a party which holds the White House and both branches of Congress, to govern responsibly.

The latest Continuing Resolution (CR) provides funding for Children’s Health — but it does nothing to address our concerns about Community Health Centers, student loans, worker pension plans, the opioid crisis, and so much more. Without the leverage of the budget, I fear there may not be another chance to consider these other pressing matters. Remember, in the House, the majority party has absolute control over which bills come to the floor, what is in those bills and what amendments are allowed.

Of course, with Trump in charge, Democrats have reason to be concerned about “promises” to address any issues in the future. In very public ways on many issues, Trump and his Congressional supporters have been caught in so many lies it undermines any trust between us.

I voted NO on this CR. America deserves better and I believe a strong commitment to our values is the best course to ensure our goals are fairly addressed. Both Massachusetts Senators also voted NO on the CR. The entire House vote is recorded below:

  YEA NAY PRESENT NOT VOTING
REPUBLICAN

221

6

0

10

DEMOCRAT

45

144

0

4

TOTAL

266

150

0

14

MASSACHUSETTS
DELEGATION

2

7

0

0

Behind the Curtain — More House and Trump Administration Actions You Don’t Want to Miss

Here are this week’s additions. If you need to catch up or share with friends, you can find the full list here.

  1. In late 2017 the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), at that time still under the leadership of Obama appointee Richard Cordray, finalized a rule requiring payday lenders to determine if a potential borrower could actually repay a loan before approving it. Payday lenders offer small loans at high interest rates with repayment tied to a borrower’s paycheck. Acting Director Mick Mulvaney has already announced plans to repeal that rule. By doing this, he is effectively letting payday lenders get away with issuing high interest loans to people who cannot afford to pay them back. All too often, the people who seek out a payday loan are doing so because they have no other choice to make ends meet in the short term and they can be plunged deeper and deeper in debt with mounting interest charges.
  2. Beginning on February 15, 2018 new U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) requirements for privacy releases that Congressional offices need to help constituents with pending immigration cases will go into effect. Releases must be signed under penalties of perjury. USCIS may also require a new privacy release after 30 days if a status update is requested or if there are follow up questions after an initial request has received a “meaningful response”. This will make it more difficult for Members to help constituents in matters that are already complicated and frightening for many newcomers. I joined about fifty other Members to protest the imposition of ANY changes without prior consultation with Congress. The Department of Homeland Security has yet to explain what constitutes a “meaningful” response after which they may demand a new privacy release. Moreover, 30 days is an impossibly short time in these matters. Difficult cases, such as appeals for political asylum or refugee family reunification, can go on for years. This is one more way for the Trump Administration to make life difficult for the immigrant community and shows its scant regard for the legislative branch.
  3. In January of 2018 the Department of Housing and Urban Development announced it would delay until 2020 a rule mandating that communities review their neighborhood housing statistics and identify areas where residential segregation exists. The rule also required communities to devise plans to reverse residential segregation. Communities not complying with this provision would lose access to certain types of federal dollars such as housing aid. The rule is an effort to comply with a 1968 Fair Housing Act provision that cities and towns "affirmatively further" fair housing. Communities must prohibit discrimination but they must also actively address neighborhood housing discrimination when it is identified. This aspect of the 1968 law has never been fully enforced and the rule is an attempt to address that deficiency. Reducing residential segregation is an important step in addressing segregation in other areas. Where children are educated, where families receive their health care and where they seek employment are all linked back to where people live.
  4. In January of 2018, Acting Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Mick Mulvaney submitted the bureau’s quarterly funding request to the Federal Reserve. This is a routine submission but the amount Mulvaney requested is raising more questions about his true intent at the CFPB. He’s asking for exactly zero dollars. By way of comparison, for the last quarter, then-director Richard Cordray asked for $217.1 million. In defending his approach, Mulvaney argues that the CFPB has a reserve fund and doesn’t need any more money at this point. Mulvaney also suggested the money he would have asked for should instead go to the Treasury to reduce the deficit. This is quite the bold suggestion since the Republican tax bill will balloon the deficit by $1.5 trillion while primarily benefitting corporations and the very wealthy. Mulvaney’s contempt for the CFPB is no secret. He described it as “an awful example of a bureaucracy gone wrong” on his first day there. It’s not surprising then that he would starve the CFPB of resources it needs to effectively protect consumers. Lack of action at this agency will directly impact the financial security and rights of all Americans.
  5. In January of 2018 the National Parks System Advisory Board lost most of its members when they quit in a show of protest over the Trump Administration’s policies regarding the environment and issues relating to it, such as climate change. The advisory board has been in place since 1935 and provides guidance to the Secretary of the Interior. Current Secretary Ryan Zinke has shrunk some national monuments and opened up much of the country’s coastline to drilling. In announcing the resignations, the advisory board chair pointed out that Zinke has never met with the board and is pursuing policies that are not in the best interest of the national park system.
  6. In January of 2018 President Trump proposed cutting the budget of the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) by 95%. This would be accomplished by moving two major grant programs out of the White House umbrella. Instead, the programs would be administered by the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, agencies with vast portfolios already. President Trump declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency but has done little to support that declaration. This is a concerning move. The grant programs are working well being overseen by the ONDCP, which is a White House office. Now, they will be split into two different agencies with different priorities. The opioid epidemic is a national crisis and this move diminishes the authority of the office overseeing the Administration’s response to it.

What’s Up Next

The next House votes are scheduled for Monday January 29th. At this writing, a list of legislation to be considered is not available.

Mike


Congressman Mike Capuano
7th District, Massachusetts
Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
Committee on Financial Services

P.S. I welcome your feedback on our e-Updates. Please let me and my staff know what you think of this service by e-mailing our office.


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Stetson Hall Room 124, 6 South Main Street, Randolph

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